Last week’s bit on the need to downsize the empire generated more calls and e-mails than I’ve seen in a while. And I have to say, I’ve been taken aback – 90 percent agree with the need to cut military spending.
And most of the people who said that identified themselves as conservatives.
“I almost never agree with you,” went one representative note, “but I think you’re right on this time.”
It’s in their DNA, maybe. Because at one point, conservatives – more so than liberals – were anti-war:
The plain fact is, conservatives loathe unpredictability. They also know that vast state expenditures and debts can destabilize a society, and no activity of the state is more expensive than war. America’s adventure in Iraq, driven in no small part by the quest for oil—which will now mostly go to China—has already cost a trillion dollars, with another trillion or two to come caring for crippled veterans. Even the peacetime cost of a large military can break a country, as it broke the Soviet Union. American conservatives used to be budget hawks, not warhawks. …
One gain that comes out of war is as disturbing to conservatives as any of the losses: an aggrandizement of state power. The argument of “wartime necessity” runs roughshod over all checks and balances, civil liberties, and traditional constraints on government. In the 20th century, American progressives knew they could only create the powerful, centralizing federal government they sought by going to war. It was they, the left, who engineered America’s entry into World War I. Nearly a century later, 9/11 gave centralizers in the neocon Bush administration the cover they needed for the “Patriot Act,” legislation that would have left most of America’s original patriots rethinking the merits of King George. Just as nothing adds more to a state’s debt than war, so nothing more increases its power. Conservatives rue both.
Well, actual conservatives, as opposed to movement conservatives.
I have to say, though, if in a place like Lancaster County there are enough conservatives who are dubious of the amount we spend on on national defense, who think we ought to knock it off with the global adventurism and bring the boys back home, saving billions in the process – that’s a conservatism I could get on board with.